6 best business credit cards for startups in 2021 | finder.com

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Best business credit cards for startups

Many business credit cards offer helpful benefits for startups.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked

Our pick for start ups: Brex 30 Card

Up to $150,000

In value from partner offers

  • Easy-to-use charge card
  • No personal guarantee required
  • $0 annual fee for first five cards
Apply now

Running a startup is never easy. You’re juggling multiple priorities at any given moment — including, of course, your company’s finances.

A business credit card can be your best friend for covering last-minute expenses and there are lots of cards that cater to startups. But watch for cards that require personal guarantees: in the event of delinquency, you’ll be on the hook for company debt and your personal credit may be affected.

What are the best business credit cards for startups?

There are many business cards on the market, but it’s likely only a few offer benefits that meet your specific needs. Here are a few of our top picks.

Best for no personal guarantee
Brex 30 Card

Brex 30 Card logo
Credit recommended (300-850)
Apply now
on Brex's secure site
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 7x
Points
Other
Welcome offer
The Brex 30 Card is a charge card specifically designed for startups. What makes this card unique is that it doesn't require a personal guarantee to apply for the card. This means your personal assets can't be used to cover your business debt in case your company fails to pay it off.
  • Rewards program. Earn 7x points on rideshares, including Uber, Lyft, taxis and scooter, 4x points on flights and hotels booked through Brex Travel, 3x points on restaurants, dining and eligible Apple products purchased through the Brex portal and 2x on recurring software purchases like Salesforce, Zendesk and Twilio. All other purchases earn 1x points.
  • No personal guarantee. Your startup may fail. With Brex 30 Card, you are not personally liable for the card debt and you don't need a personal guarantee to be approved for the card.
  • Signup bonus. Get $150,000 worth of services, including $5,000 in credit for Amazon Web Services, a 25% subscription discount off of 12 months of eligible Slack plans, 20% discount on annual Zoom subscriptions, 50% off on Dropbox business plans and more.
  • Can't carry a balance. The Brex 30 Card is a charge card, meaning you must pay your balance in full every month before it's due.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR N/A
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $150,000 worth of credits and offers for business services like Amazon Web Services, Slack, Zoom, Google Ads and more
Rewards 7x points on rideshares, 4x on Brex Travel, 3x at restaurants, 2x on software subscriptions and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for travel
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95
Annual fee
Up to 3x
Points
100,000
Points welcome offer
This is one of your best choices if you travel often. You'll earn accelerated points on travel and other business categories. And when you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they're worth 25% more.
  • Signup bonus: 100,000 bonus points. To earn bonus points, spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of card membership. When you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they're worth $1,250.
  • Rewards: More on business purchases. Earn 3x points on the first 150,000 you spend per year in combined purchases on travel, shipping costs, eligible advertising and Internet, cable and phone services. Once you reach the cap, and on all other purchases, you'll earn 1x points.
  • Points transfers to frequent-traveler programs. Transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to select airline and hotel programs, such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards and World of Hyatt.
Annual Fee $95
Purchase APR 15.99% to 20.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% to 20.99% variable
Welcome offer 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 3x points on the first $150,000 on travel and select business categories annually, then 1x after and on all other purchases

Best for intro APR
U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® logo
Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

740
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
$500
Welcome offer
If you need to take on interest-free debt for longer than a month, you’ll want a card with a strong intro APR. The U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® is one of your top options, offering a long zero-interest promotion and strong rewards in select business categories.
  • Annual fee: None.
  • Intro APR. Get a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles following account opening. After that, your APR will be 11.99% to 22.99% variable.
  • Cash back. Earn 3% cash back on qualifying gas station, office supply store, and cell phone or service provider purchases. Earn 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $500 cash back after you make $4,500 in eligible purchases within the first 150 days after account opening.
  • Annual bonus. After each account anniversary, earn a 25% bonus on the cash rewards you earned the previous card year.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Welcome offer $500 after spending $4,500 in the first 150 days
Rewards 3% cash back on gas, cell phone services, and office supply stores and 1% back on all other purchases

Best for average credit
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business logo
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (630-739)
Read review
Rates & fees

630
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
When you’re bootstrapping your startup, you might not have the best credit, from running up high balances or taking out loans. When other cards might be out of reach, the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business may be a viable option because of its unique features: no annual fee, unlimited cash back on your purchases and you can apply with an average credit score.
  • Apply with average credit. Capital One specifically targets this cards toward business owners with average credit.
  • Annual fee: None. A breath of fresh air, especially when your credit might not be where you want it to be.
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on every purchase. Earn unlimited rewards with no minimum to redeem. It isn’t a great rewards rate, but it’s a decent deal if you have fair credit and need a business card.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 26.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 26.99% variable
Welcome offer N/A
Rewards 1% cash back on all purchases

Best for flat cash back
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
2%
Cash back
$500
Welcome offer
If your expenses spread through many categories, like office supplies, travel and shipping costs, a flat-rate rewards card like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business might help. A flat-rate card means you earn a flat 2% cash back on all purchases with no category restrictions. Also, you get to earn a generous signup bonus and you won't pay an annual fee for the first year.
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95. After the first year, the annual fee is $95.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $500 after you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases. Earn unlimited rewards with no minimum to redeem.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 20.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 20.99% variable
Welcome offer $500 after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months
Rewards 2% cash back on all purchases

Best for building credit
Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-579)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
1.5%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
Businesses that have no credit history or those that have poor credit score should consider the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card. Being a secured card means you have to make a deposit of between $500 and $25,000 to act as your credit limit. If Wells Fargo upgrades your card to an unsecured one or if you decide to close your account, Wells Fargo will return your deposit if there's no outstanding debt.
  • Build your credit. Wells Fargo reports your card activity to the Small Business Financial Exchange. With responsible use, you could quickly see your business credit score rise.
  • Rewards. Select one of two programs: 1.5% cash back on all purchases or 1x points plus 1,000 bonus points for every $1,000 spent.
  • No annual fee. You won't pay an annual fee for your main card.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 15.15% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer N/A
Rewards 1.5% cash back on all purchases

How we selected our top cards

We measure a few different factors when comparing available credit cards for startup businesses, including credit score requirements, introductory APRs, reward programs, points or cash back earned per dollar, reward earning categories signup bonuses and other added perks particularly beneficial to startups. The cards we highlight demonstrated exemplary performance in one or more of these categories.

What’s changed in 2021

Our list stood relatively stable this year, with most cards maintaining strong performance and remaining top picks in their respective categories.

Pros and cons of startup credit cards

Pros

  • Access to funds
  • Earn rewards on purchases
  • Get 0% intro APR period on purchases
  • Build business credit
  • Track employee spending

Cons

  • Could damage your personal credit in case of delinquency
  • You may be personally liable for the company debt
  • Credit limit may not be enough
  • Could pay an annual fee

How do I choose the best small business credit card for a startup?

Your startup’s finances can be simplified with the right credit card. Here’s what to consider to choose the right one:

  • Annual fee. Startup margins tend to be razor-thin and the last thing you want to factor into your balance sheet is the added expense of an annual fee. There are numerous no-annual-fee business cards available but bear in mind that you’ll earn more powerful rewards with cards you have to pay for.
  • 0% intro APR. Getting a business off the ground can be expensive — especially in the first year of business. Seek a credit card with a 0% introductory APR so you can cover upfront costs without the added weight of generated interest. Intro APRs for business cards tend to span up to 15 months.
  • Signup bonus. Some cards offer points, others offer cash, but either way, a signup bonus can help offset unexpected expenses while you focus on getting up and running.
  • Rewards. Cards with annual fees may pay for themselves if they’ve got a solid enough rewards program. Review regards program criteria against your business’ spending habits to find a program your startup can profit from.
    • Employee cards. Most card providers let you add employee cards at no additional cost. You can set spending limits, monitor card activity and easily export card data to accounting software.

    Should I get a business credit card or use my personal card?

    There are plenty of benefits to using a business card instead of a personal card. A business card can help you separate your personal spending from your business spending. While it may be tempting to rely on your personal credit card for business expenses — especially when you’re just starting out — this can have several unintended consequences. For example, separating your personal spending from your business spending can help you easily differentiate expenses and sort deductions come tax season.

    Plus, a separate credit card for your business helps protect your personal assets if your business is incorporated and you find yourself facing a lawsuit. And even if your business isn’t entirely official, a business card offers other perks too:

    • Build business credit
    • Higher credit limit
    • Rewards on business-related purchases

    Can I get a business card before my company is official?

    Yes. In fact, freelancers and private contractors are eligible for business credit cards as long as they can prove their income.

    While different card providers have different eligibility criteria, you should be prepared to offer the following information when you apply for a business credit card:

    • Name of your business
    • Industry type
    • Business tax ID number
    • Time in business
    • Number of employees
    • Annual revenue
    • Estimated monthly expenses
    • Total annual income
    • Social Security number
    • Personal credit history

    When should startups reconsider their credit cards?

    What’s suitable for your business in its infancy may not work long-term — especially if your business experiences rapid growth or a sudden change in trajectory. One reason you may want to consider swapping card providers is if your business has outgrown your current card’s credit limit. Or perhaps your business checking account is stationed with another bank and there are perks or incentives for combining your accounts.
    A practical way to evaluate whether your current card serves the needs of your company is by reviewing your business expenses and spending habits. Does your current card offer perks and rewards that benefit your business? Would it be possible to snag a lower APR by switching providers?

    Just because a particular card worked for your startup doesn’t mean it will continue to work for your business two, three, five or ten years down the road. The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to switch it up.

    Compare cashback business cards

    Here’s a quick side-by-side look at some of the cashback business cards available.

    Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
    Brex 30 Card
    Up to $150,000 worth of credits and offers for business services like Amazon Web Services, Slack, Zoom, Google Ads and more
    7x points on rideshares, 4x on Brex Travel, 3x at restaurants, 2x on software subscriptions and 1x points on all other purchases
    $0
    The first corporate card for startups. No personal liability or security deposit needed, meaning your personal credit score won't be affected.
    Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
    $750 back after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months
    1.5% cash back on all purchases
    $0
    $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
    Sam's Club® Business Mastercard®
    $30 when you open your account online and spend $30 or more at SamsClub.com within the first 30 days
    Up to 5% at Sam's Club with Plus membership, 5% cash back on gas (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1%), 3% on dining and 1% on all other purchases
    $0
    Earn up to 5% at Sam's Club with Plus membership, 5% cash back on gas (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1%), 3% on dining and 1% on all other purchases.
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    Compare up to 4 providers

    Bottom line

    Your startup faces unique challenges, which some cards can address more effectively than others. Business cards are tailor-made to help you overcome challenges related to your business. If you don’t have a business credit history or if you have bad credit, compare cards for no credit.

    If you’d like to compare more products, visit our guide on business credit cards.

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